Why digitisation is a team sport

August 21, 2017

Unless you are an ICT company, digitisation is not your core business. All you want is the means to turn this brave new world into an enabler of your business success. For that you need the right partner in your digisation transformation journey, says Dr Willie Oosthuysen, cofounder of Africa ICT.

Digitisation, virtualisation and the cloud leave many business owners and executives with a sense of unlimited possibilities. But there can also be a sense of unbridled panic as you wonder how to turn this potential into revenue, a driver for cost synergies and, ultimately, value for shareholders.

Few things are scarier or more frustrating than seeing an opportunity but not knowing how to make it happen, or seeing a disruption in your business and not knowing how to respond fast enough.

Let’s start at the beginning. To make digitisation work for you, you have to get on board. In developed economies, cloud spend grows at more than 100% per annum. This wave of cloud adaptation is heading to South Africa in a big way. The localisation of cloud datacenters and the entry of over-the-top players are driving intense competition between the hyperscale cloud providers. Each wants to move as much as possible of the workload (market share) that currently sits in on-premise datacentres into its cloud solution.

Moving workloads into private, public and/or hybrid cloud delivery mechanisms is neither quick nor easy. Data migration, security, profiling, data cleansing, training and change management – often requiring on-site project managers – are all jobs that have to be done, and done right.

The first step is understanding how to manage the data and workload migration process. To achieve cost savings and new revenue opportunities without risk for your business, it is worth considering independent professional assistance.

But choose wisely. Migration could be seen as a one-off event. The crux of your digitisation move lies in how you extract value post migration. In future you will need aggregation services, moderation services, localisation and cloud system integration services, as well as third-party services that run on the cloud provider’s infrastructure (aka software as a service).

These and other services are designed to optimise asset utilisation in the cloud. They allow you to enjoy the benefits of scaling depending on demand. They are not, however, typically provided by the hyperscale cloud providers who want you to consume more, not less, of their services.

Consequently, optimisation of workloads in the cloud and application code optimisation are best left to cloud system integrators.

Knowing this, you should choose a migration partner that can seamlessly morph into your cloud workload optimisation partner.

From this person or entity you should expect the ability to:

  • Provision private cloud infrastructure for workloads that you will not move into the public cloud. The interface that connects private and public clouds to ensure seamless enterprise functioning is critical in this instance.
  • Integrate services to create end-to-end value. You buy computing capacity; it is up to your workload partner to source whatever is needed from different providers, integrate it and present you with a single bill. Inherent in such end-to-end value provision is the ability to identify and “cut out” the required piece of a digital service, and optimise and customise it for your requirements. A system integrator that understands your business outcome requirements and manages consumption and integration of services accordingly, can be an extremely valuable business partner.
  • Service the relationship between you and your multiple cloud providers, in terms of data migration, metering, management, consumption-based billing, security, compliance to local regulation such as POPIA, development of software that runs on the cloud platforms, and optimisation.
  • Act independently when selecting the solution set that will best meet your business requirements. Traditional service providers may not always act in your best interest when new digital services threaten their legacy systems and existing revenue streams.

In short, you want an independent service provider that understands your requirements and business strategy, translates it into the desired workloads and service requirements, and sources these from the most appropriate cloud providers. Your provider also has to manage the entire interface (billing included) on your behalf, and deliver the whole package without a bias to protect existing revenue streams.

With such a partner on your side, the disruption that digitisation brings will be an enabler for future business success.

For more information, contact Dr Willie Oosthuysen on woosthuysen@africaict.co.za